Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 17, 2014

His race to the top

Kokomo Tribune

---- — I’m ashamed to admit that I sometimes get winded running up the 23 steps to my second-story office at work.

In my defense, the staircase is especially steep. Okay, I’m just out of shape.

I was already embarrassed about that fact. Then, I spoke to Kokomo native David Hollingsworth this week.

He’s training for a run to the top of the Empire State Building.

Yeah, you read that right. On Feb. 5, he’ll sprint up all 86 floors of the New York City skyscraper. That’s 1,576 steps, or more than 68 times the number I climb every day at work.

And he’s doing it to support an old high school buddy, Jeff Goad, who fought cancer and won.

“Jeff sat next to me in band, and we were known as better comedians than musicians,” Hollingsworth wrote in his blog. “Our teacher had the patience of Job in dealing with our shenanigans…he would occasionally glance up, raising one Spock-like eyebrow in our direction, letting us know we’d been busted…..but that was all part of growing up.”

Hollingsworth lost touch with his friend and didn’t reconnect until much later. He found out that Goad had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer, in 2010.

Prior to his diagnosis, Goad had run nine marathons and participated in grueling sailing competitions. After a full year of chemo and two stem cell transplants, though, Goad went from being a true athlete to barely walking around the block.

It took time for him to rebuild his strength and endurance, but he did. Since then Goad has hiked in the Grand Canyon and completed the Chicago and New York marathons – cancer free.

“At this stage, while Jeff may consider this living a ‘normal’ life, I think it’s an exceptional one – and it’s inspired me to join in the fight,” Hollingsworth wrote in the blog. “I’m training hard to get ready for the [Empire State Building] Run-Up, and doing everything I can to get this story out.”

Before Hollingsworth can tackle the Empire State Building, he has to raise $2,500 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation – his team in the race.

He’s more than halfway there. He has raised almost $1,500.

He could use your help in reaching the goal, though. Every little bit helps, even if it’s only a dollar. You can donate online at http://www.active.com/donate/2014MMRFRunUp/RUDHollin.

The foundation expects to raise between $800,000 and $1 million during the race. Ninety percent of that goes directly to research.

“It’s going to take a lot more research and study to find a cure,” he wrote in his blog. “The MMRF is pioneering individualized treatment approaches, which can translate directly into longer lives for MMRF patients. THAT’S why I’m doing this.”

Once he raises the funds, he can focus solely on his grueling training regimen, which involves – you guessed it – climbing lots of stairs.

He practices in a nine story building in Washington D.C where he lives. He goes down to the parking garage and runs up all nine flights of stairs as fast as he can.

Then, he takes the elevator down and runs up again.

This week, he’s doing that seven times daily. Next week it will be eight and the following week nine.

It’s really not fun, he told me.

“It doesn’t ever get easier,” he said. “You’re miserable the whole time you’re doing it, and then it’s over. You get your head down and keep chugging.”

Hollingsworth said he doesn’t even have to touch his wrists to track his heart rate during climbs. He can feel his pulse throbbing in his head, he said.

But still, he’s excited for the race. He’s shooting for a finish time of 20 to 25 minutes, which is very average, he said.

The fastest runners finish in 10 minutes and the slowest in 40. According to the event website, some people inevitably end up crawling to the finish line.

I, on the other hand, would likely be crawling by the 10th or 11th story.

Maybe we should let Hollingsworth be an inspiration to us all. If he can climb the Empire State Building, we can surely conquer the stairs at work.

I should really run up and down the stairs an extra time each day for good health. I promise I’ll get on that just as soon as I catch my breath.

-Lindsey Ziliak

[friday] editor/ out-of-shape stair climber